Biophilic Design is one of the hottest trends for 2020, and it’s all about creating a happier, healthier interior, but what exactly is it?
Spring is only around the corner now, and everyone knows how much better they feel to be in warm sunshine, the extraordinary pleasure felt by just being in your garden, or on a walk through the woods. Even seeing your potted plants indoors come to life in the spring sunshine can bring such joy.
This feeling is what makes the building blocks of ‘Biophilia’, a concept introduced by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, which describes the relationship between humans and nature. But it’s not just about how we relate to nature; it is about how having contact with nature makes us happier.
The United Nations has predicted that by 2030, 60 per cent of the world’s populations will be living in urban environments. Even as a largely urbanised civilisation, our human instincts crave a connection to nature. Understanding that relationship between people and nature is becoming a huge deal in the world of Architecture and Interior Design.
The design of biophilic spaces is all about providing that connection to the outdoors back to the people, but using elements of nature, or emulating it in the design of buildings.
So how do you incorporate Biophilic Design into your Interiors?
We tend to spend around 90 per cent of our time indoors, which means we are getting further away from the soothing and healing powers of nature. There are a number of elements in design that can bring nature to us, and they can be pared down to five key points.
If you can’t be at one with nature, then the next best thing is surely being able to see nature through your window. The physical benefits of admiring a beautiful natural view are lowered heart rate and stress levels.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a beautiful view of rolling hills, and short of moving home, it’s unlikely there’s much that can be done about it. The key is to make the most of what you do have. If you’re in a position to renovate, try adding French doors, bi-fold door window seats, and keep curtains from covering your window. Open up that view so the outside flows right inside.
Like plants, without daylight we do start to wither away, we need daylight to thrive. Our bodies need Vitamin D that is provided by sunlight to fight depression or the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that many people suffer from in the winter months.
It can be neglected far too often how much we need Vitamin D, especially at the office, where we often cover windows to stop the sun glaring off computer screens, depriving their workers of contact with natural light. Shopping centres deliberately cut you off from contact with natural light so you lose all sense of time and shop ‘til you drop.
The best solution to that comes back to your windows to make sure your home is flooded with light. Make sure any curtains are not blocking the light, or employ light fittings with daylight balanced bulbs to bring that life-giving light indoors.
While it might have been called a fad, the craze for indoor plants might be just what we need. Not only do plants make us feel calmer and more relaxed, but they’re even shown to raise creativity in office workers. All that as well as working hard to purify our air, making our homes better for our health.
However, before you think you’ve got it nailed with a bunch of plastic potted plants, you haven’t. Only the real thing will suffice in biophilic design, as we need the connection to real nature to truly reap the benefits.
It may all be very good to claim that we need large windows, endless natural light and sunshine, lush green views, and enough plants to start a garden centre, but not everyone will have access to those things. How do we make sure the benefits of biophilia are available to everyone?
The answer is in the choice of materials we use in our designs, and natural materials are the way to go. It’s beyond purely the visual appeal of a material, for example, a wooden table, it’s about the tactile sensations that come with it, the sensations we get when we touch and feel the wooden table in the example.
We can’t always have views of the sea but we can have a painting of the sea. Representations of nature in our art, wallpapers or fabrics can give us a certain amount of the relaxing benefits of the real deal.
That banana print wallpaper might not only be the design statement you want to make in the downstairs bathroom, but it can also meet the emotional benefits your human instinct needs from looking at lots of leafy foliage.
One of the final pieces of the puzzle to bringing the outdoors indoors comes in the choice of colours we use. Look to echo the colours outside our homes with a colour palette for inside that creates happy, productive and, creative environments. The main colours that pop up are darker greens, blues, browns, tans and tawny golds.
They might sound rather dreary colours, but according to Human Spaces report The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace:
“Humans are attuned to seeking out colours indicative of flowers and fruit. Therefore, judicious use of bright colours will help liken a space to natural conditions and improved user preference.”
In other words, bright colours aren’t off-limits, but they’re more appropriate as accent colours in a design scheme. Think dark green sofa with zingy red and orange cushions, like succulent flowers on the lushest tree,
The study of Biophilia is certainly hotting up. As all the scientists learn more so will we designers. Interestingly there does seem to be a certain amount of correlation between the principles of Biophilic Design and Feng Shui. So, though we might be understanding the human drive to be near nature better than we have before it certainly isn’t an entirely new approach to designing happier homes.
Finish off your lush biophilic design with contemporary and classic lighting available in the UK by visiting us today.